Ontario moves to increase school bus safety

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The Ontario government has announced new measures to give municipalities the tools they need to target drivers who threaten the safety of children crossing roads to get to and from their school bus. The proposed regulations will allow for more efficient enforcement and prosecution by allowing evidence from these cameras to be used in court without the requirement of an additional witness.

“Putting people first is something our government prioritizes in everything we do and that certainly includes the safety of students on school buses,” said Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MPP Steve Clark. “These proposed new measures from the Ministry of Transportation will help enforce the law and prosecute irresponsible drivers who put our children at risk in the municipalities I serve.”

“The safety of our most precious resource, our children, is our government’s number one priority,” said Minister Yurek. “We intend to create a regulatory framework that will allow for more efficient enforcement and prosecution to keep our children safer.”

Ontario also plans to introduce legislation that, if passed, would allow municipalities to target drivers who threaten the safety of children on school buses with new, additional monetary penalties.

Each school day, more than 837,000 students travel in a school vehicle in Ontario.
Injuries and fatalities, which are very rare, happen more often outside the school bus as students are boarding and leaving the bus or crossing the street.

“We fully support Minister Yurek and his government’s announcement of regulatory change to permit the use of school bus stop-arm cameras as evidence of passing a stopped school bus,” said Rob Murphy, President of the Independent School Bus Operator Association. “We have been looking forward to this announcement for some years. This announcement will help ensure children across our province will continue to be transported safely to and from school.”

It is illegal to fail to stop for a stopped school bus that has its red lights flashing. If you don’t stop, you can be fined $400 to $2,000 and get six demerit points for a first offence. If you are convicted a second time within five years, the penalty is a fine of $1,000 to $4,000 and six demerit points.

The proposed regulation will allow for more efficient enforcement and prosecution by adding cameras to all school buses. These cameras will be allowed to be used in court without the requirement of an additional witness, who is usually the bus driver. However, with this new regulation, the driver will not have to take a day off of work to be in court.

According to the news conference, there will be an upfront cost, which was not disclosed and an additional charge for each unit. Each unit will cost around $1,000 to $2,000. The camera will be placed on the arm of a school bus stop to catch vehicles that pass the stopped bus. The camera will capture the make, model and license plate of the passing car and will unlikely capture kids crossing the street.

The President of the Independent School Bus Operator Association, Rob Murphy, also spoke at the conference. He says, “We have been looking forward to this announcement for some years. This announcement will help ensure children across our province will continue to be transported safely to and from school.”

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